Combine exotic destinations and state-of-the-art ships and river cruises take on a whole new holiday dimension. Vietnam and Cambodia by any stretch of the imagination can accurately be described as exotic destinations, while the River Saigon, the latest ship to ply the Mekong River, beginning in 2012, is certain to be the best-of-the-best as far as river cruising is concerned.
The River Saigon may look at first glance like some throwback to some 1930s colonial era but that’s where any such vague similarity ends. For this river craft is at the cutting edge not only of technology, but also of luxury. It’s certain to be a fabulous way to enjoy the unspoilt beauty and peace of a truly enchanting part of the world.
If the ship glides gracefully through a magical landscape on the outside, on board the watchwords luxury, service and intimacy will surely add up to a holiday experience that will stay a lifetime in the memory. The ship features 30 deluxe staterooms, all of which have lovely French-doors that open onto a spacious promenade where passengers can enjoy a range of amenities and activities.
These include eating meals within the ship’s panoramic restaurant, enjoying the tranquillity of the lounge complete with library, or relaxing mind, body and soul in the delightful surrounds of the massage room. There’s also a boutique, too. And when it comes time to retire for the evening, the staterooms provide everything you’d expect a first class hotel room to provide. It simply doesn’t get much better.
The Mekong River flows through no fewer than six countries – China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam – and is just over 3,000 miles in length. It begins its life in the Tibetan Plateau and eventually reaches the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, where it slows and splits up into nine channels before emptying into the South China Sea.
Any trip to this area of south-east Asia can never be considered complete without a visit to the internationally famed Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia, a world heritage site of great importance. The complex, which goes back more than 900 years and was the ancient capital of the Khmer Empire, is a magnet for the hundreds of thousands of tourists who visit the site every year.
And, of course, there are still many traces to be found of the cathartic Vietnam war which raged during the 1960s and 1970s across the whole region. Many of the battlefields are now popular tourist attractions, a good example being the 75 miles of underground tunnels found at Cu Chi, a district of Ho Chi Minh City. Ho Chi Minh City used to be better known as Saigon.
These amazing tunnels formed part of an even greater complex of connecting tunnels which literally straddled the whole country, enabling the Viet Cong fighters to move about unseen and then to launch devastating attacks against the American forces. But the tunnels were so much more than simply a means to resist the Americans. Food, weapons and other equipment were also safely stored underground and the tunnels even housed hospitals to treat wounded fighters.